US-bound cargo from Cambodia to face enhanced scrutiny

Original article from The Journal of Commerce, September 26, 2014, by Corianne Egan.

Cargo headed to the U.S. from Cambodia will face added scrutiny due to what the U.S. Homeland Security calls inadequate security measures.

According to the Cambodia Daily, U.S. authorities asked Cambodia ports to put additional security measures in place for several Cambodia ports in 2008, but DHS noted in a Sept. 15 letter that the country’s two major commercial ports – Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville – are “no longer maintaining effective anti-terrorism measures.”

Though details of the security measures required were not disclosed, DHS cautioned that if the ports do not improve their security, individual carriers that depart from Cambodia will have to put in place their own or risk being turned away from U.S. ports.

According to PIERS, the data division of the JOC Group, Cambodia has exported 28,020 TEUs to the U.S. through August, down 5.6 percent from the same time period of 2013.

Both ports were deemed to have sufficient anti-terrorism measures in place seven years ago. Cambodia also signed the U.S. Megaports Initiative in 2009, which aimed to supply 100 seaports with radiation inspection equipment by 2015. Part of the reason for its participation in the program, Cambodia Daily said, was to curb the smuggling of radioactive material through Sihanoukville. The U.S. installed a radioactivity scanner at the port.

A report from the Association of Southern Asian Nations (ASEAN) said Cambodia was preparing to strengthen its capacity to secure its ports. Since 2012, workshops hosted by Australia, the U.S. and Japan have worked to help Cambodia organize a maritime security committee.

Several U.S. initiatives have aimed to secure cargo at home, all stemming from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. These include the SAFE Port Act which requires 100 percent security scanning of all U.S.-bound containers. Though ambitious, that initiative fell flat and resulted in DHS telling Congress the plan was too expensive and unrealistic to be implemented. Congresswoman Janice Hahn, D-California, pitched a pilot program to test 100 percent scanning in mid-September.

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